Start of Master StudiesJuly 20, 2020
There was no option for me but to always start studies as soon as possible. Remember, the processing of my residence permit had delayed which made me travel one month into the start of the Master’s program.
Making Contacts Before Program Start
Making attempts to do networking in Denmark even before reporting to the university helped me. I got hold of two African ladies who were admitted to the same program like myself. Luckily, they had already reported to Denmark in time. They kept me informed about much of the teaching that happened in my absence.
Missing the Introductory Lectures
One of the courses had been taught for one month already by the time I came. Another course had even been completed. For the completed one, the instructor was good enough to allow me to complete the assessment exam from home in Kenya since it was a Pass/Fail course. I was delighted to pass it despite having been working on it from home.
Student Learning Portal in Denmark
The university student learning portal; Blackboard, provided me with an important platform to quickly catch up. Here, I was able to not only send emails seeking clarifications from the instructors but also learn from my peers who participated in the classes when I was not around. The reading materials, lecture notes, and tasks were all posted on the Blackboard. At least with this, the only thing I missed was the in-lecture hall participation which is very critical in understanding some of the complex concepts.
Travelling to Campus First Day
I kept contact with the South African ladies who also received me on my first day at the university. The University is located two and a half hours away from where my sister lived. I had to use the train to reach school every single morning. Just to finish up on the first-day experience at the university-I made the long trip alone, did not have data on my phone to get the direction.
Locating Campus on the First Day
My sister just explained to me where to get off the train and which direction to take. To avoid making so many mistakes, I took screenshots of the direction on my phone at home. I did not have internet access on phone to use Google Map so kept referring to the screenshots along the journey. I missed the direction. I took a wrong turn and ended up on a different route.
Getting my way to the University on First Day
Already the South African fellows had accepted to receive me but I was too early. I arrived in the university city at 6.56 am. This meant that nobody could be on standby to welcome me. I had to depend on random road users to show me direction. I could see their surprise that I was asking direction in Denmark.
Feeling Like a Stranger
When I asked one old Danish woman for direction to campus, she mumbled some few unclear English words and just walked away leaving me distraught. This one alone made me start to question my initial judgments of the culture of Danish. For once I felt like a stranger; loneliness in Denmark engulfed me.
At the airport on my arrival from Kenya, they were so warm and hospitable. Some had even asked if I need help when I did not even need it. Today, here I am in need of help but the old woman could not just spare me time to help.
Relying on Strangers for Direction
The daylight was getting brighter and more people came by riding their bicycles. With the biking trails, most of them could not even care to stop when I waved them down. Obviously, they were rushing elsewhere. Typically people are on the move in Denmark.
Getting Direction to Campus
A young boy on his bicycle-I think he was going to school stopped after I waved him down and showed me the direction. He could not speak in good English but it was good enough to help me find my way to the University.
Official Opening Hours at the University
At the university, I was too early. The main entrance remained closed. I thought that the university just had a free entrance for everyone at all times. This mindset was from how things happen in my previous University back in Kenya. I was wrong. I later learned that without my electronic student ID, I could not access the university premises at odd hours ( any time outside 8.30 am to 4.30 pm and on weekends). At this time I had not received the student ID. Without the ID, I had to wait for the first early student at the university to allow me to use his or her card into the building. Luckily I got one.